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When the King Comes Back ( Brandy Hall )  by Dreamflower

(The diagnostic method used by the healer in this chapter is a tribute to my husband, who practices healing touch.)


In the Great Smials, Poppy Burrows, the healer, shut the door to Pippin’s room and turned to look at her patient.

“Now, Pippin, get out of that gear. I want you down to your smallclothes.”

“Poppy!” the wail of protest sounded much the same as it had when he was seven and had just about the same effect. She turned a stern eye upon him, and grumbling, he began to undress.

Just as he was sitting there shirtless, the door popped wide open. Pippin gave a yelp and ineffectively tried to cover himself.

“Oh, Pip, it’s only me,” said his sister Pimpernel, arms laden with a basin, towels and a steaming kettle. She had opened the door with her foot, and now shut it the same way. “I’ve seen you with no shirt before…” but then she really did see him.

From just under his right arm and down the side to his hip was a massive black and purple bruise. His left arm was still bloody. Clearly visible scattered about his torso were various scars, his back was criss-crossed with scars from the Orc whips and his wrists bore the scars of rope burns. Pimpernel gave a little cry, and her eyes filled with tears.

At these signs of sisterly distress, Pippin’s anger abated. “I’m fine, Pimmie, really. It could have been a lot worse,” he added cheerfully.

For some reason these words did not cheer her.

Poppy looked up from the dressing table where she was setting out the contents of her medical pouch. “Pimpernel, put those things down by the bed, thank you, and then go back out.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She put down her burden and moved obediently to the door, but her eyes lingered on her brother for a moment before she went out.

The healer briskly cleaned and dressed the cut on his arm. “Shallow, clean, no need for stitches.” Her hand moved up to touch a scar on his upper arm. “Very neat. Who was your healer?”

“Strider--Aragorn is his real name. He’s a king now.”

“I hope he is as good a king as he is a healer; his land will fare well,” she said dryly. “Lie down.” She took from around her neck a small bone disk suspended from a silk cord. Pippin relaxed. This was a familiar procedure; soon she’d know every scratch he’d got since he left.

She started near his feet, dangling the disk above him, watching the pattern it made as it swung. “Did you break your left foot?”

Yes, ma’am.”

She moved up to the left knee. It was a bit swollen, and the erratic pattern of the swinging disk indicated pain. “And what did you do to your knee?”

“Dislocated,” he muttered. “I’ve mostly been riding, not walking, since it happened, but today Butter was hurt, too, and I didn’t want to risk laming her. It only hurts like that if I walk or stand on it for too long.”

“I see,” she said calmly. “And when did all this happen?” She was watching the pendulum again. Interesting.

“In the spring, near the end of Rethe.”

She was silent once more, moving to inspect him closely. The bruise was obviously painful, but thanks to his armor, he had been spared any more broken ribs this time. “Would you like some good news?”

Pippin’s eyes widened. “*Good* news?”

“Young fellow, in a little more than seven months, you have healed well from injuries that most would take a year or more to recover from. Not only that, but I do believe the old weakness in your lungs is gone. Your knee will probably always trouble you a bit. Try not to overstress it, and I will give you an ointment you can use to alleviate the swelling and pain.” She had hung the disk back around her neck, and now prepared a steaming cup that smelled of herbs. “This should help the pain and also help if you run a fever, so you can rest tonight. You should be up by *tomorrow*.”

He stared at her in amazement. “Thank you, Poppy.” Good news indeed.


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